Review: Glencadam 21 year old


Good old word of mouth, its the dynamic that marketing bods cannot control and can only dream of influencing. Yet for whisky enthuisiasts it is a powerful tool and one that can lead in you new directions.

I often keep my ear to the ground (or is that to the dram?), chat during a tasting and online banter can reveal some unlikely future purchases. There is frankly far too much whisky being released nowadays. The asking prices keep on rising and with this influx of output, as opposed to increased demand, you can feel a little bewildered by it all. 

My general rule is when I start hearing about a specific bottle from at least 2 trusted sources then it warrants further investigation. Thus we have the Glencadam 21 year old sitting right in front of me now. An unfashionable whisky lets be honest, but one that ticks all the boxes (unchill filtered, natural colour) and isn't jumping around screaming 'look at me, look at me!' like so many distilleries today. In fact lets be honest here; most of you wouldn't have even given Glencadam a second glance until now?

Situated near Brechin, the distillery is a survivor in a region that has been blighted by closures over the decades. Names such as Banff, North Port, Lochside and others have faded into the history books whilst Glencadam kept on going. We should be thankful, as was Alfred Barnard who when visiting was impressed by the boiler for heating water. At that time the distillery employed 8 and produced 40,000 gallons annually. Back then it's main market was Glasgow and the surrounding regions, who seemed to enjoy the Highland malt of Glencadam.

Today the presentation of Glencadam is more traditional than say Glenmorangie, which has been given a boutique makeover. Glencadam isn't setting fashion nor following trends. The pricing is however is refreshing with this 21 year old coming in under £100 and if you shop around you could pick up a real bargain. This particular bottle I snapped up at auction and even with costs it was a great deal. The damaged cardboard box may have put some bidders off but I was all about the whisky, speaking of which.

Distillery: Glencadam
Age: 21 years old
Strength: 46%
Additional: unchill filtered, natural colour 
Price: varies with the top end being £90

Colour: buffed leather

Nose: right into an almond bucket, toffee apples, vanilla, potato peelings and some grain touches. A bizarre opening. Lots of nuts. Pineapple and coconut apply when water is used lavishly.

Taste: very malty, rinsed in honey and yet a touch of bitterness. The charms of this whisky are only truly revealed through patience and more water than you normally add; this dram can take it! Then tropical fruits arrive with pineapples and lemon rind, spices from the wood and granola.

This is the most transformed malt I can recall with the addition of water. Commencing as rather unpleasant, it then transforms Cinderella style into an engaging and enjoyable experience. 

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